The season for sharing chocolate is upon us and this year look for dark chocolate truffles made at the source in Africa, Macallan-infused truffles, or chocolates that give back to children’s charities. Nothing says the holidays are back like a big box of chocolates—as you head off to see and hug loved ones that you’ve missed since this crazy pandemic started, you will need a box of chocolates to meet the moment.
Here’s the list:
Richart: These are among the finest-tasting chocolates of this guide, they have a satiny melt-in-your-mouth quality that hits all of the right pleasure notes, and for good reason. Chocolatier Gautier Richart takes the optimal flavor expression quite seriously (he even wrote a white paper about it), balancing aroma, texture and flavor into an art form. This year’s holiday chocolates are inspired by The Nutcracker with a selection of truffles, chocolate lollipops and palets painted with characters from the ballet. For those purists with a serious chocolate addiction, Richart’s offerings are your best bet. Gifts can be topped with a hand-painted message written on large, wafer-thin sliver of chocolate—which makes for a très nice touch.
Recchiuti Chocolates: These consistently award-winning chocolates from San Francisco are distinctive for imparting the barest essence of flavor without overpowering the chocolate experience. Consider their Lemon Verbena dark chocolate truffle. Often, citrus overpowers the chocolate but in this expression it plays quietly in the background, imparting just enough flavor to keep things interesting. The Black Collection features 16 beautiful, hand-painted, silky, dark chocolate expressions that will make everyone in the family happy.
Bellafina Chocolates: Owner and Founder of this Tennessee-based chocolatier Brenda Barnicki, donates 100% of her profits to children’s charities. They are staffed almost entirely by volunteers and the paid positions help women in recovery from addiction, domestic violence and abuse. Oh, and, the truffles are amazing. She makes every truffle fresh to order, without anything artificial. She’ll even customize your box and your individual truffles with custom artwork. These might just be the perfect gift—letting you indulge and be a good person at the same time.
Milla: Milla Founder and Chocolatier Christine Sarioz creates the most beautiful chocolates—with sculptural, modernist sleek lines and luminescent gold accents they get the win for dramatic flair. And, they taste as good as they look. Sarioz leans on single-origin or organic chocolates from the Dominican Republic, Peru, or Venezuela. The peated whisky and Champagne infused dark chocolate truffles are silky, decadent and balanced, but we loved the Manhattan infusion above all. Look for 16 piece box with Manhattan, Champagne, Kir Royale options. This is the box of chocolates to send if you intend to impress.
Compartés: This chocolate company has been a Los Angeles fixture since 1950, supplying the stars and celebrities for decades with European-styled chocolates. Today, Chocolatier Jonathan Grahm lends a modern spin to things creating colorful truffles with a spirited edge (think Macallan and dark chocolate truffles, Moet Champagne dark chocolate—or the Nightcap, a dark chocolate bar infused with whisky). The 20-piece holiday chocolate gift box is a signature Compartés offering and they recently released a line of Organic Vegan Superfood Chocolate Bars called Compartés Organics.
Chocolat Moderne: An award-winning chocolate brand founded in 2003 by Joan Coukos, who set out to create visually stunning expressions that showcase new ingredients. The Hanukkah Collection is surely among the best with flavors that celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah: Walnut Babka, Apricot Rugelach, Raspberry Sufganiyot, Hanukkah Gelt, Coconut Macaroon, Almond Marzipan, Halva and Pomegranate. For more traditional spin on things consider the Champagne Chic Collection made with dark Italian grappa and dusted with an edible pearlescent powder.
LeSaint French Chocolate: Chocolatier and owner, Stéphane LeSaint is a 2019 International Chocolate Awards Silver Medal Winner, recognized for his mastery of dark chocolate and we love him even more for putting just a bit less sugar in each expression. His extra dark truffles deliver a high-octane chocolate experience for true aficionado—but for the ultimate holiday joy order an Assortment Maison (a grand variety of tastes and flavors) or the show-stopping one-half pound solid chocolate ornament created with three layers (crispy rice, caramel and almond or peanut butter).
L.A. Burdick Founder Larry Burdick started this well-loved company in 1987 after training as a chocolatier in Bern, Switzerland. Everything here is done by hand, right down to the hand-painted eyes on their iconic mice and penguin chocolates—they are actually created individually through 12 steps over a three-day period. For the holidays, the Signature Chocolate Assortment features a playful selection of truffles in all shapes and sizes and comes in a fetching wooden box finished with a wax seal.
Midunu: African dark chocolate made at the source, Chocolatier and founder Selassie Atadika works with a local team of women chocolatiers in Ghana and uses unique African ingredients. She ships each hand-made truffle is hand-crafted from Ghana to the US via air with insulated chests and dry ice to ensure they arrive in the US in good condition. But arguably, the most alluring and freshest offering from Midunu is her African-spiced hot chocolate mixture, ADWOA Dark Drinking Chocolate with Spice. It’s sultry, rich and flavorful—I was tempted to spike it with a bit of rum, but that’s your call.